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Communication in Multicultural Environments

Communication in Multicultural Environments

Code: COM1TN012
Scope: 5 ects (135 h)
Timing: 2nd semester
Language: English

Curriculum: DIG2015
Course level: core studies
Course type: compulsory

Learning objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, the students will be able to increase their cross-cultural communications skills in global and culturally diverse work environments. This will be accomplished through comparing and contrasting key dimensions in global cultures. One of the main goals is appreciating how reaching multicultural synergy benefits individuals and companies. A key learning point is positioning your own culture in universal systems.


Topics to be covered on the course include the following:

  • The nature of multicultural communication; concept of culture
  • Universal systems, contrasting cultural values and cultural clashes
  • Verbal and nonverbal communication
  • Business and social customs; global etiquette
  • Intercultural negotiations and virtual meetings

Assignments and course agenda:

  • Introduction and dividing the students into teams. Discussing the concept of culture. (Culture can be global, local, geographical or demographical and there can be subcultures and subgroupings.)
  • Individual oral or written assignment: My cultural conflict. (Explaining personal experiences of culture shock, understanding the dynamics of an acculturation process, as well as concepts of ethnocentrism and stereotypes.)
  • Team assignment: Watching a videoed lecture by a specialist. Analyzing that lecture within your team. Comparing and contrasting Finnish culture with some other culture and its values.
  • Team assignment: Creating an educational video that describes the communications or work culture in one country to an audience of expatriate employees.
  • Team assignment: Writing a comparative cultural report on two countries according to HH guidelines.
  • Team assignment: Recording a video or giving an oral presentation based on your comparative cultural report.
  • Individual assignment: 1-2 peer evaluations; assessing the shared work effort in your team and/or evaluating some of the course material according to Lewis and Hofstede models.


Passed course is assessed on a scale of 1 to 5.

Grade 1

The student can present values, communications and cultural features pertaining to a country and understands the importance of cultural sensitivity and global awareness. The quality of work and participation is uneven.

Grade 3

The student celebrates diversity and understands the possible negative effects of cultural miscommunication. The student can compare and contrast values, communications and cultural features in two countries constructively and understands how selected cultures can be positioned in universal systems. Even contribution in group work, active participation and good quality of work.

Grade 5

The student understands the personal and corporate benefits of cultural synergy and knows how to improve intercultural communication and behavior in conflict situations. Universal cultural systems have been internalized and the person understands how to apply these theories into new situations. Impressive contribution in the team’s work effort, active attendance and participation, as well as excellent quality of work.

Preparing in advance, timely execution in all assignments and active participation during sessions is required and does have an impact in evaluation.

Course material

Provided or informed by the teacher.

Haaga-Helia Reporting Guidelines

Richard D. Lewis: When Cultures Collides – Leading Across Cultures

Chaney and Martin: Intercultural Business Communication

Geert Hofstede website

Recognition of prior learning (RPL)

Recognition of prior learning (RPL) is a process where prior learning will be assessed in consideration of current studies. Prior learning should be based on work experience in global positions, where the working language has been English. If the student wants to pass the course by using (RPL/AHOT), the student has to enroll on the course officially and contact the teacher of the course to start the RPL/AHOT procedure. Official enrollment includes registration through Winha and being present on the first lecture.

Starting level and linkage with other courses

No special requirements or prior studies.

Working life connections

Current international trends in the field of ICT/business are closely monitored.


Timetables allowing, the implementations are comprised of students from both the Finnish and international degree programs, including exchange students. Presentations of international ICT professionals are included, when applicable.

Learning methods

Contact lessons, independent studies, group learning, written report, presentation, virtual and distant learning.

Responsible teachers

Eija Hansén

Tarja Paasi-May

Outi Valkki